When I was young, I had recurring dreams about someone I had never met. His name was Dusty DeBorak. I guess you could call him my imaginary friend. The dreams were innocuous; standing in a grocery store line, reading the newspaper on a park bench, stuff like that. But I remember waking up and feeling this overwhelming need to find this person, to meet him in real life, that somehow I needed him to be part of my life.
Nowadays, my non-nightmare dreams are full of people I already know, used to know, or have seen recently on television. (Why was I in school with Michael Kelso last week?) However, in the last couple of months, I’ve had several dreams about a minor-role boyfriend from a long time ago. It got me thinking… Why him so much? Why not other people? Then it occurred to me that maybe my subconscious was telling me something I hadn’t acknowledged. Maybe he had a larger impact on the course of my life than I give him credit for. It made me want to sit down and review our relationship, with the benefit of hind-sight.
This realization has inspired me to write a new series that I’m calling “The First Forty”. Who were the 40 most influential people in the first half of my life? Who has contributed to shaping me into the 40-year-old woman I am today? Who have I hurt? Who have I loved? Who has hurt me? Who has loved me? Who taught me the importance of being brave, or spontaneous, or free-thinking, or reserved? What have I really learned about life, love, people, and myself?
The short list would certainly include my mother, father, and stepfather. And of course, my two daughters have had a profound impact on who I have become and who I will be in my second half. But I also feel the need to recognize the significance of my friends, extended family, co-workers, former partners, as well as a few fictional characters and historical figures.
I probably won’t publish all of these tales, but I’m pledging today to sit down and write all forty of them (eventually). The happy parts, the sad parts, even the parts I wish had gone differently.
Who are the 40 most influential people in your life? Have you made a list? Have you thanked them for their love, support, or kindness recently? Have you apologized to someone you hurt? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.